Through the Square Window Online festival (June 5-6, 2021)

Workshops | Talks | Concerts | a Sound Bath | a Roundtable | Films, and more

2021 marked the tenth anniversary of the Vocal Constructivists. We celebrated our journey with a series of events that encouraged an online audience to listen, learn, share, and engage. With no entrance fees, no mud, and enough space for all who wanted to pitch their virtual tents, our virtual festival offered opportunities for creativity, participation, reflection, Q&A, and lively engagement with music-making. There were three structured “events” each day: the first involved a choice of seminars, the second featured guest speakers, and the third broadcast performances. The festival was offered in memory of Scratch Orchestra pioneer and broadcaster Carole Finer († March 2020).

June 5 and 6: Instructional sessions on singing experimental music online, creating DIY pieces with found sounds, listening in the virtual realm; a sonic meditation; spotlight talks on Pauline Oliveros’ 1971 Link and community music-making fifty years later. Also workshops on using a zoom window as a stage, analysing and making graphic scores, a Micro Concert, and roundtable discussion on network music-making and acoustic ecology.

VC festival films

Birds on a Long Wire (a 27-minute film of the Vocal Constructivists’ 2021 online premiere of a new commission by Swiss composer Margrit Schenker)

Deconstructing Infinity (a 30-minute original documentary that playfully narrates the insiders’ perspective on musicking the 12 panels of Mark Applebaum’s 72-ft Metaphysics of Notation)     

Magic Carpet (a 10-minute film of Carole Finer’s 1971 eponymous graphic score)

Soul-mates revised (a 4-minute film of Zeynep Bulut’s 2016 piece for voices, plastic bags, and electronics)

Silence and Waiting (a 2-minute film of Jane Alden and Neely Bruce giving the premiere in 2021 of Michael Parsons’ 2019 setting of a text by Annie Dillard)

Twelve Sounds Heard (a 2-minute film of Ron Kuivila’s 2017 tribute to the late Pauline Oliveros)

2021 Festival Performers

Alison Cross, Barbara Alden, Ben Zucker, Celia Jackson, Charles Céleste Hutchins, Chau-Yee Lo, Jacob R. Miller, Jane Alden, Linn D., Margrit Schenker, Nick Burnham, Rebecca Hardwick, Sally McCorry, Simon Walton, and Suhail Yusuf

Note on the documentary: Mark Applebaum’s Metaphysics of Notation (2008) offers the insiders’ perspective on musicking the 12 panels of this 72-ft score. Charles Hutchins’ custom-made computer program enables remote collaboration and an ever-changing performance. The computer has its own editorial prerogative, to transform and manipulate audio samples in certain conditions, determined by the score. The work is as much a musical filter as a musical prescription, with the score presenting conceptual substance through which the expressive energy of musicians must pass. Warmest thanks to Mark Applebaum for creating this unique notational journey and to Charles Hutchins for making it infinitely variable.

Special thanks for the amazing behind-the-scenes help provided by Brent Wetters, Grant Cook, Jefferson Randall, Neely Bruce, Niamh O’Sullivan, Nir Bitton, Richard Duckworth, Stan Scott, and for the support of Wesleyan University